For the Love of St Michaels...
…go somewhere else.
By Captain Jody Argo Schroath
For the past dozen or so years, I have been trying to lure you into visiting some of the Chesapeake’s least known but most deserving destinations. Beginning with Colonial Beach in maybe 2005, then Crisfield, then the upper Patuxent River, I have described probably 120 beautiful, intriguing, exciting, alluring, adventurous, historic, mysterious, fascinating, serene, crazy and/or secret places to cruise on the Bay. “Come up the Rappahannock to little Tappahannock,” I write enthusiastically. Or, “You must see Port Deposit, which clings to the edge of stern granite cliffs, while, year after year, the Susquehanna tries to wash it away.” Also, “Unlock the secret to entering Horn Harbor on the Great Wicomico and discover a jewel box of peace and beauty inside.” And so forth.
But what happens? Each month you politely read the article. You say, perhaps, “Yes, that sounds kind of nice.” And then you go back to St. Michaels. Or Solomons, in a pinch.
The following month, I try again. “Brave the shallow Poquoson Flats to discover the historic boatyards of Smith Marine Railway on Chisman Creek or York River Marina on Bennett Creek.” I remind you that at York Haven Marina, “You also can ride an airboat and thrill to skittering over the watery islands of the Poquoson.” Or I say, “Travel up the enchanted Chickahominy River to tiny Colonial Haven where you’ll have a first-class, Sunday breakfast and meet a delightful couple who make friends with turtles.
“Yes, that does sound interesting,” you say, and then go up to Solomons, followed by St. Michaels. Always
I don’t write about St. Michaels, because what’s the point? You already know the place better than I do. No, I just keep trying to get you to go somewhere else, knowing full well that no matter what I say, no matter how irresistible I make it sound, I am not going change your mind. You like St. Michaels. Your children like St. Michaels. Even your dog likes St. Michaels. You went to St. Michaels last year and the year before. You went there with your parents. You went there after you got married and bought your first grown-up boat. You went with your own children. Now you go with your dog. Eventually, your children will buy a boat and
go there too. It’s no wonder it gets so crowded.
I walk down the dock on a fine Saturday morning. “Where are you off to this weekend?” I ask, as if I didn’t know. “St. Michaels.” “St. Michaels.” “St. Michaels.” At the Baltimore Boat Show, I chat with a couple from Cape May, New Jersey, who cruise up Delaware Bay and over into the Chesapeake every summer. They love the Bay! “What’s your favorite place to go?” I ask them. “Oh, St. Michaels!”
Yes, yes, I know. St. Michaels has everything going for it. It is easy to get to, has a big anchorage and good marinas. It’s a cinch to walk downtown from the harbor and browse the shops. There are a dozen good and interesting restaurants, excellent pizza and scrumptious ice cream. You can stay in a charming inn. Heck, you can even pick from three spas. You can sample every libation known to homo sapiens. And you can visit one of the best museums of any kind. (Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, of course.)
But, really (I can’t stop myself), what about this? Havre de Grace has great ice cream at Bomboys, handmade macarons at Les Petits Bissous, marinas, a mooring field, a bookstore to crow about and four museums—five if you count Bahoukas Antique Mall & Beer MuZeum and six if you count McLhinney’s Speakeasy Museum. What about Cape Charles at the other end of the Bay? Excellent ice cream at Brown Dog, first-rate pizza at Deadrise Pies, a singular hardware store, and a long-delicious, white-sand beach. Norfolk has its own battleship, a lot of good food, fine shopping, a great art museum and a first-rate maritime museum of its own. I could go on. Oxford, Cambridge, Chesapeake City. I will go on. The Wharf, National Harbor, Cobb Island, Reedville, Chestertown, Pocomoke, Mobjack, the Wye, the four Wicomicos (Wicomico, Md., Wicomico,Va., Great Wicomico and Little Wicomico) and the two Choptanks. I haven’t even gotten to the extraordinary Mattaponi and Pamunkey yet.
Listen, I’m going to make you a deal. You go to one of those 120 other places on the Bay this summer and I’ll go to St. Michaels. I’ll even write about it. Not that you’ll need to read it. You can just say, “We told you so.”